Author`s name Stephen Lendman

Advancing the ball for war on Syria

by Stephen Lendman

What's ongoing bears disturbing similarities to events preceding NATO's 1999 Yugoslavia aggression.In the 1990s, NATO lawlessly intervened for the first time outside territories of its member countries. No nation or alliance may attack another except in self-defense. 

Doing so requires Security Council authorization. Washington considers that notion quaint. Rule of law provisions don't matter. Advancing America's imperium alone guides official policy. From August 30 - September 20, 1995, NATO conducted Operation Deliberate Force. Naked aggression targeted the Serb Republic. Hundreds of aircraft flew thousands of sorties. It preceded what followed. From March 24 - June 19, 1999, Operation Allied Force was unprecedented in ferocity. For 78 days, devastating bombing ravaged Yugoslavia. Around 600 aircraft flew about 3,000 sorties. 

Thousands of tons of ordnance were dropped. Hundreds of ground-launched cruise missiles were used. Nearly everything was struck. Massive destruction and disruption followed. An estimated $100 billion in damage was inflicted. A humanitarian disaster resulted. Environmental contamination was extensive. Large numbers were killed, injured or displaced. Two million people lost their livelihoods. Homes and communities were destroyed. 

Nobel laureate Harold Pinter called NATO's aggression "barbaric (and despicable), another blatant and brutal assertion of US power using NATO as its missile (to consolidate) American domination of Europe." Lawless aggression became humanitarian intervention. An avenue to Eurasia was opened. A permanent US military presence was established. American imperialism claimed another trophy. In 2001, NATO intervened in Macedonia. Post-9/11, much more lay ahead. Iraq followed Afghanistan, then Libya, now Syria, ahead Iran, and numerous proxy wars against Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and other challengers to US hegemony.

On June 22, two Turkish warplanes provocatively entered Syrian airspace low and fast. Doing so showed hostile intent. Orders came from Washington. Ankara plays lead attack dog. Syria was blamed for Turkey's provocation. False flags provide pretexts for wars, occupations, colonization, and plunder. Long ago, plans were readied to destroy Syria. They're playing out in real time.

Expect full-blown intervention. It's coming. On June 26, NATO members convened in Brussels. Military intervention was discussed. Turkey invoked NATO Charter Article 4. Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko called doing so a "very alarming signal." It suggests planned "escalation around Syria." Article 4 calls for members to "consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence, or security of any" is threatened.

It's the second time it's been used since Turkey invoked it in February 2003 ahead of Washington's Iraq aggression. Expect Article 5 to follow. Its only use to date was in October 2001 to attack and occupy Afghanistan. Doing so was lawless aggression. Security Council authorization wasn't forthcoming. Congress didn't declare war. Under the Constitution's Article 1, Section 8, only Congress may declare war. It hasn't done so since December 8, 1941. Post-WW II, all US wars were illegal. So are ongoing ones and what's perhaps imminent.

On June 25, Ankara urged NATO members to invoke Article 5. It considers a real or false flag attack against one or more members an attack against all. In response, it calls for naked aggression disguised as collective self-defense. Hostile rhetoric suggests it's coming. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara no longer will tolerate security threats along its border.

Friday's incident "opened a new phase in Turkish-Syrian relations," he said. Assad "has become a clear and present danger to Turkey's security." Washington wrote his lines. He delivered them publicly.

Turkish jets provocatively entered Syrian airspace. International law justified its response. Turkey's Hurriyet daily, state television, Reuters, and other news sources said wreckage was found in Syrian waters. According to Erdogan, it was downed in international airspace but fell in Syrian territory. How he left unexplained. Instead he said: "There are some circles both inside and outside Turkey who are trying to distort this fact."

Syria committed "a hostile act," he added. "The Syrian administration is tyrannical and not just. Turkey will be in solidarity with our brothers in Syria until a new regime is in place....We will offer all the possible support to liberate the Syrians from dictatorship." Calling Syria a "clear and present danger," he barely stopped short of declaring war. So did NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen, saying: "We consider (Syria's) act to be unacceptable and condemn it in the strongest terms."

"It is another example of the Syrian authorities' disregard for international norms, peace and security, and human life."

"Let me make this clear. The security of the alliance is indivisible. We stand together with Turkey in the spirit of strong solidarity."

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said all options are on the table. What happened can'tgo unpunished. "International law is on our side. Turkey will not hesitate to take steps to this end."

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), wants diplomacy, not force, used. So do Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Peace for Democracy Party (BDP) leaders.

MHP's Devlet Bahceli said Ankara shouldn't "fall into a trap of intervention in Syria. Some western countries have put pressure on Turkey for an intervention...." He urged "appropriate steps for Turkey's national interests" be taken short of "instigat(ing) fresh conflict in the region." BDP co-chairman Selahittin Demirtas also opposes military intervention. So does BDP deputy group chairman Hasip Kaplan, saying: 

"If any resolution (for it comes) to the Parliament, we will oppose it."

Demirtas said attacking Syria risks regional war. Turkey should avoid it. "The government should give this clear message to the world."

Turkey's Communist Party blamed Erdogan's government for Friday's incident. In a press release it said:

"This behavior is a dirty game played by the Turkish government supported by the USA and Israel. It is not the first provocative move made by the Turkish government."

CHP member Kamer Genc said he trusts nothing Erdogan's government says. "First we have to know why the warplane went there and who ordered it," he added. He holds Erdogan and other ruling Justice and Development Party (JDP) leaders responsible for Friday's incident. Syria's Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdessi called Turkey's action a blatant violation of Syrian sovereignty and international law. He accused Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of making baseless and inaccurate statements. His account contradicts the facts. 

Ankara's aircraft lawlessly violated Syrian airspace. Land-based anti-aircraft fire downed it. Their maximum range is 2.5 km. Syrian waters extend 12 nautical miles. Wreckage found had holes consistent with machine gun fire, not missiles. Evidence proves Davutoglu lied. So did Erdogan and other JDP officials. Makdessi added that machine gun weapons don't use radar. Visual confirmation alone detects threats. Incoming aircraft were spotted from 1 - 2 km from Syria's coastline. They flew 100 meters off the ground at a speed of 800 kph.

Syria confronted them responsibly. Turkey, Washington, other key NATO partners, and Israel would act the same way. Accusations, not apologies, would follow.

Whether war is imminent after Friday's incident matters less than what's planned. Turkey's provocation advanced the ball closer to full-blown intervention. Hostile rhetoric suggests it. Expect escalated confrontations to follow, then bombs away with or without Security Council authorization. The pattern by now is familiar. When Washington wants war, it's coming. Only its timing is uncertain.

Stephen Lendman